Dial M for Murder 3D (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 9 Old 10-09-2012, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109941&d=1210373637

Audio/3D Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Warner - 1954
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 105 minutes
Genre: Mystery/Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MVC/AVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio, Dolby French/Spanish Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring:Grace Kelly, Ray Milland, Robert Cummings, John Williams
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Music by: Dimitri Tiomkin
Written by: Frederick Knott
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 9, 2012

"Is this the man she was waiting for... or the man who was waiting for her?"

Film Synopsis:

When American writer Mark Halliday (Cummings) begins a relationship with the very married Margot Wendice (Kelly) in London, he unknowingly sets off a chain of blackmail and murder. After sensing Margot's affections for Halliday, her husband, Tony Wendice (Milland), fears divorce and disinheritance, and plots her death. Knowing former school chum Captain Lesgate aka Charles Swann (Anthony Dawson) is involved in illegal activities, Tony blackmails him into conspiring to kill Margot. When she ends up killing Lesgate in self-defense, Tony implicates her as being guilty of premeditated murder. Halliday must out-strategize Tony to save Margot's life.

My Take:

Dial M for murder is a film adaptation of the stage play of the same name both of which were penned by Frederick Knott. Directed by the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock the story revolves around Tony Wendice an ex-professional tennis player living in a London flat with his wealthy wife Margot. Tony retired from tennis after a few injuries and Margot’s complaints about his busy schedule. The couple had grown distant and Margot began an affair with American crime-fiction writer Mark Halliday, which Tony secretly discovered. Motivated by resentment, jealousy, and greed, Tony devises a plan to have Margot murdered. Enlisting the aid of a shady former acquaintance Tony’s diabolical and calculated plot is carried out. Things don’t quite go according to plan which results in Tony’s accomplice as the “murder” victim and Margot on the hook for it. Planned or not things are working out for Tony save for one very minute detail/assumption on his part and a steely eyed gumshoe willing to follow up on a hunch.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a devout Hitchcock fan simply because I haven’t seen all of his films. I do consider myself a fan and have enjoyed most of his classic works. This is my first time seeing Dial M for murder and while not up to the level of his best it is an engaging crime thriller. I don’t see it as much of mystery since the “who what where and why” is revealed up front. I didn’t mind that and liked how things played out once Tony’s plan goes awry. I was eager to see Tony get his comeuppance and thought that the unfolding elements relative to the revealing details was nicely done. I liked the cinematographic work especially considering the majority of the film takes in the small apartment/flat. Ray Miland is icy in the villainous role of Tony while Grace Kelly aptly conveys naïve charm coupled with elicit romantic complicity involving Mark.

Ranked number 9 on the American Film Institute's 2008 list of the 10 greatest films in the "Mystery" genre, Dial M for Murder has seen various incarnations of its plot over the years. The most recent being 1998’s A perfect Murder starring Michael Douglas, Viggo Mortensen and Gweneth Paltrow which is the film I immediately compared this to. I am not so sure Dial M for murder qualifies as a cinematic classic but it is a noteworthy addition to its genre and in the capable hands of Alfred Hitchcock is an engaging and entertaining film experience.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic material.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 68

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

3D Presentation: 72

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Depth (Onscreen): attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Dimension (Beyond the screen): attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Realism: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Dial M for murder 3D comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p MVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 1Mbps.

Interestingly Dial M for Murder, was among the first films that helped Warner Bros. introduce 3D in U.S. theatres in the early ‘50s. According to the press release Warner Bros.’ Motion Picture Imaging (MPI) division has meticulously and painstakingly restored the original 3D presentation. To ready Dial M for Murder for this release, MPI’s work included a 4K scan of the original camera negative, and a full restoration of the two “eyes,” as well as convergence fixes to ensure perfect alignment. In looking at this 3D presentation I was impressed with the reproduction of color/fleshtones, the rich contrast and average but passable black levels. Shadow is a mixed bag however the scene where it counts most, the attack sequence, looks terrific.

Resolution is rarely questionable during close ups. Certain mid level and wide angle shots look oddly soft and lacking in distinctive sharpness. I am not referring to the type of background projection or matte work used during the period as that is easily recognizable. This is a shot to shot variation within the same scene that isn’t pervasive but is quite evident. Otherwise the overall quality of images onscreen is very good and exhibits a film like aesthetic that is pleasing. Grain is intact with moderate presence that imparts a noticeably grainy but unobtrusive texture. The native 3D adds discernible onscreen dimension that places objects and people at various stages of depth within the frame but the effects are best described as reserved. I didn’t have a problem with that and in certain instances it added an enriching visual element to the film. I didn’t notice any deleterious anomalies associated with the video 3D or otherwise other than some mild edge enhancement.

The monaural soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio lossless and while it won’t knock your socks off I found it delivered the components in the original recording just fine. The auditory is predominantly free of unwanted clicks, pops or background hiss. Dialogue intelligibility is excellent as it is never lost amidst the other sounds coming through the central channel.

2D Video Quality:

Video: 78

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Dial M for murder comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 Mbps.

My impressions regarding the video quality as stated in the 3D portion of the review are applicable to the 2D as well.

Bonus Features:

  • Hitchcock & Dial M – 21 minute documentary

  • Theatrical trailer

Final Thoughts:

Ranked number 9 on the American Film Institute's 2008 list of the 10 greatest films in the "Mystery" genre, Dial M for Murderr was adapted by Frederick Knott from his hit Broadway stage play. The film stars Grace Kelly in her Hitchcock film debut and Ray Milland, Robert Cummings and John Williams. Directed by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, it’s an engaging and well executed crime thriller that I found entertaining. It makes its debut on Blu-ray in its native 3D which has been carefully restored by Warner’s MPI. The presentation appears to faithfully represent the film’s elements although there are a few minor nits to pick. Overall both the 3D and converted 2D imagery allows fans to see this film at home looking as close to its theatrical presentation as possible. The bonus features consist of a theatrical trailer and a decent documentary featuring modern filmmakers discussing Hitchcock and the film. Regardless of its minor shortcomings, if you’re a fan this release should have a place in your Blu-ray collection.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

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post #2 of 9 Old 10-09-2012, 01:16 PM
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FWIW, the YELLOW font is near impossible to read.
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-09-2012, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

FWIW, the YELLOW font is near impossible to read.


Thanks. I changed it. I use the black forum skin and it shows up fine with that.


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post #4 of 9 Old 10-10-2012, 06:40 AM
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A great movie but not sure the 3D BD is worth the upgrade from DVD.
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-10-2012, 08:53 AM
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A little disappointed by the lack of extras on the disc. Have yet to see this classic and I may have to give it a go when we get our 3D T.V. Nice to see that the 3D is done well despite it being a 50s 3D flick.

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post #6 of 9 Old 10-11-2012, 08:51 PM
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The 50s 3-D films, for the most part, make much better use of the process than the modern ones. They have much more depth (though "Dial M" is probably the most subtle of the bunch). I've been fortunate enough to see the majortity of them at revivals in recent years. Some of the newer directors and DPs would do well to take a look at them.
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post #7 of 9 Old 10-12-2012, 09:24 AM
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Here's a review of the disc - plus a detailed history of the film and its release - by the 3-D Film Archive:


it also goes into some depth about the WarnerColor process, which accounts for most of the visual anomalies on the Blu-Ray.

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post #8 of 9 Old 10-12-2012, 11:17 AM
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Great review Ralph. I remember watching this movie in a theater about 25 years after it was originally released and I liked it a lot. I've been a fan of the film ever since and I've caught bits and pieces of the movie over the years on late night TV and while flying on planes. I'll definitely put this one on my Netflix rental queue, but I don't think that I am going to buy a copy until the price drops. I wish that I had a 3D TV so that I could see the effects. I'm trying to imagine why they shot this movie in 3D in the first place!


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post #9 of 9 Old 06-30-2013, 08:55 PM
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Nice review Ralph.
I had the opportunity to see DMFM in 3d, earlier this year at my local Movie Tavern in Fort Worth, TX.
Having only seen the movie on tv, and never in 3d, I was excited about it ... and was not disappointed.
I would say that this movie exhibits 'restrained 3d effects' versus what many folks like as the 'in your face' effect. The one exception being during Margo's attack...the scissors are 'laid in your lap,' something I would have enjoyed how the audience reaction was back in 1954.
From what I have read, Hitchcock was not keen on the idea of shooting in 3d, but I think he did very well, as it is subtle and effective.

I hope that House of Wax, due for release later this year, is an excellent presentation in 3d too.
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